Is the United States of America worried over China’s influence in Africa?
The Secretary of State of the United States of America (USA) Hillary Clinton has embarked on a serious tour of the continent of Africa. This tour is not a site seeing one. The presence of Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton on African soil, is a sign that the USA is worried over China's domineering influence in Africa, as purported by a South African academic and political analyst on Monday the 6 August 2012.
It is evident that China's growing presence on the continent of Africa has the tendency to affect the rapport between the west and Africa, especially the USA government in Washington D.C., concurred, Ralph Mathekga, director of Clear Content Research and Consulting, a Johannesburg based Research and Consulting Agency that furnishes services on political advisory, strategy, analysis and research including a comprehensive risk analysis for investors.
'I would not say that the U.S. has interests in countering China, rather it intends to not loose grounds as China is rapidly increasing its presence on the continent,' Mathekga expressed to Xinhua in an interview.
Secretary of State Clinton, who was in South Africa on a four-day official visit, has also visited Africa's youngest state - South Sudan in an endeavour to reinforce economic and diplomatic relations with Africa. Other countries in her 'visit agenda' include Malawi, Nigeria and Ghana.
'The growing presence of China on the African continent has a potential to change the relationship that Africa has with western powers such as the U.S., particularly when it comes to the patterns of development on the continent," Mathekga alluded.
Mathekga is also of the view that with China's increasing presence in Africa, there is a gross possibility for Africa to stop relying on aid from western financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Fund (IMF).
'This may also reduce the policy influence of western countries on development paths taken by Africa countries,' added Mathekga, who has worked before for the South African National Treasury.
Via BRICS, an acronym for an alliance that refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, China is lobbying for the creation of a BRICS Bank, an initiative several African countries welcome, which is expected to curb Africa's dependency on both the World Bank and the IMF. If the BRICS' initiative is successful, this will definitely boost China's role and investments in Africa.
All the same, Mathekga said in his interview with Xinhua that, China is keen on Africa developing rapidly. He added that it was unreasonable to think that the key motive for China's presence in Africa is to further China's own interests, making the development of Africa a secondary issue.
'However, African countries are in a better position to negotiate the terms of their relationship with China than it can be said about their relationship with western powers.' Added the Director of the Johannesburg based Research and Consulting Agency.
Concerning the sudden interest in Africa, Mathekga added that the USA is becoming more interested in the continent because many African countries are becoming more politically stable. 'The visit (by Clinton) to Africa is to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to furthering trade relations with Africa, given the growing realization that Africa is poised for rapid economic growth in the forthcoming years,' concurred, Mathekga.
It is evident that African states are beginning to realise the harmful effects of the World Bank and the IMF to the continent's development. In other to propel rapid economic growth and development of African states, there is need for a unified voice especially in the establishment of the BRICS' bank.
Another issue is that, African states must be able to decide the terms and conditions by which trade is carried out with China, especially on the quality of goods and services furnished by this Asian state. That notwithstanding, Africa should continue doing business with the west, but should be able to make assertive decisions regarding it economic development especially saying 'no' to loans from the World Bank and IMF that come with humongous interest rates.
Chofor Che is an associate of Africanliberty.org and a Doctoral law candidate of the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.